16 September 2008 – Varlamov Interview
Simeon Varlamov: “Return? Only If They Totally Despise Me Here”
Just before Simeon Varlamov was almost forcibly dragged away from the skating drills by Alexander Ovechkin, the Russian National Team goalkeeper gave an interview with Sport Express, in which he clarified his immediate intentions and described how he is getting acclimatized. Let’s start with the most important question. Are you absolutely sure that you will play the entire season in North America? Even if you have to play in the AHL?
Concretely, can you say what the probability is that you will stay in North America until the end of the season?
Well, do you see these teams as the start of a career in the AHL or a chance to make it onto the Washington team?
“Of course I am going to make it onto the team. I came here to play in the NHL. This is my dream, and the AHL is a fallback position. If I am sent to the farm team, then that most likely means that I have not yet gotten used to the zone over here. I have to get accustomed to it.”
What is the problem with the zone? Can you explain what that means for a goalie?
“The zone is smaller, and shots are taken much closer to the net. Here you can have a good shot from the boards, and it is much more difficult to catch these shots. And they screen you here a whole lot more.”
How difficult will it be to not think of Yaroslavl? Especially if it becomes clear that you will play the entire season in Hershey?
“I have already made up my mind to stay here and make the team, even if I am first sent to the AHL. I know that the number one goalie is Teodor and that Johnson is number two. This is a competition that I have to work through.”
And nobody has told you that if there were an injury you would be the first to be called from the farm team? Or do you have any type of advantage over your other two teammates?
“No, I haven’t been given any guarantees. I am one of three young aspirants aiming to be the third goalie. This is all that I know.”
And nevertheless you are ready to tell Yaroslavl to not wait for you?
“Well, only if they totally despise me here, and I am not able to play either in the NHL or the AHL. Well, then of course….”
And you didn’t tell McPhee that you wanted to have some specific amount of time in the AHL?
“The agents talked about it, but nobody promised me anything. And what could they promise me? The best players in the world play in the NHL. Nobody has any guarantees here.”
Who would you say is your goalkeeper idol? Was there someone who you wanted to imitate when you were a kid?
“When I was a kid my idol was Patrick Roy, and when I got older I started to like the Finnish goalies in the NHL. Particularly Kiprusoff, Lehtonen and Markkanen. I like their style and technique.”
Washington is the most “Russian” team in the league, but during the summer session you were the only Russian here. Is it easier now?
“The first three days I was by myself again and in a slight panic. But as soon as Ovechkin came, it became a lot easier. Now I’m waiting for Semin and Fedorov.”
How are you getting used to America?
“My main problem is the language. I can’t talk with the guys. Once I learn it, I will feel a lot better.”
How are you going to learn? Ovechkin spent his spare time watching movies and television.
“I’ll be doing the same, no doubt. So I can memorize some phrases and words more easily. Plus I also bought myself a dictionary.”
Kugryshev said that it was very hard for him to get used to the North American food. How about you?
“It wasn’t easy for me. The food here is quite different, of course. For example, Americans don’t have soups like we do. But now Ovechkin’s mom is feeding us, so everything is just right.”